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Library display, Sunday memorial service to help recall state's worst aviation disaster
by Tom Spigolon
March 28, 2014 06:17 PM | 2362 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
April 4 will mark the 37th anniversary of the worst air disaster in Georgia history, and few are closer to it than the person who heads Paulding’s library system.

Cherry Waddell has helped organize a traveling display of articles, photos and other items from the crash of a Southern Airways DC-9 jet that killed 72 people, including nine county residents on the ground, in the New Hope community of northeast Paulding April 4, 1977.

The display is in coordination with the 37th anniversary memorial service hosted by the nonprofit group New Hope Memorial Flight 242 Inc. Sunday at 2 p.m. at the edge of New Hope Cemetery directly across from New Hope First Baptist Church on Dallas-Acworth Highway.

Waddell, who was raised in the New Hope community, said the display is important both for historical purposes, and to help those close to the crash deal with the memory.

“There’s a lot of healing that needs to be done,” Waddell said. “We have found a lot of people have a need to talk about it.”

The display began Friday and will run through April 11 at Crossroads Library on Harmony Grove Church Road. It then will move to the New Georgia Library on Ridge Road in south Paulding April 11 through 25; Maude Ragsdale Library in Hiram April 25 through May 9; and the Paulding County Library in Dallas May 9 through 23.

The jet was en route from Huntsville, Ala., to Atlanta when it encountered a thunderstorm over Rome. The ensuing hail and rain caused the aircraft to lose power in both engines and quickly lose altitude. Pilots then attempted to land the plane on what is now Dallas-Acworth Highway. Though 21 passengers survived, including both flight attendants, a total of 72 were killed.

Newman’s Grocery Store took the brunt of the crash after the plane struck two gas pumps there. Four of the nine who died were at the store, Waddell said. One not at the store who died, Berlie Mae Craton, was Waddell’s great aunt.

Paulding residents who died included Craton and Kathy Griffin Carter and son, Jeffrey Richard Carter; Edna Griffin Gamel and children, Courtney and John Gamel; Faye Robinson Griffin and son, Larry Allen Griffin Jr.; and Ernest L. Prewett.

Waddell also is part of New Hope Memorial Flight 242 Inc., which is working to raise $100,000 to build a permanent memorial to the victims.

She said she wanted to see more young people involved with the effort to remember the event.

“It’s an important part of history,” she said.

The display schedule includes:

-March 28 through April 11, Crossroads Library, 909 Harmony Grove Church Road, Acworth.

-April 11 through April 25, New Georgia Library, 94 Ridge Road, Dallas.

-April 25 through May 9, Maude Ragsdale Library, 1815 Hiram-Douglasville Highway, Hiram.

-May 9 through May 23, Paulding County Library, 1010 E. Memorial Drive, Dallas.

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